When you think of someone who tends to be the critical voice in your life, who comes to mind? Is it a friend, a parent, a child, or a boss? Who is that person who is never pleased with your efforts, who makes comments that sting and guilt? That person you are thinking of…make an imaginary list and put them at the top.
Then, just bump that person in the number one spot down….way, way down. And replace your name with theirs.
“What? No…there are other people who are way more critical of me–than me.”
Really? How often are those people critical? Once every couple of years, maybe a few times a year?
Probably peanuts compared to how often you criticize yourself–my guess is daily…even hourly. Think about the voices in your head. Do they praise your efforts in parenting, cheer you on when you make a mistake, whisper words of encouragement on your housekeeping, cooking, marriage relationship, job performance? Or, are they more like mine:
“Well that parenting moment didn’t go so well did it? You didn’t keep calm–you let your emotions win over self-control and then there went the volume on your words. Now your message was not received because your child is upset and angry. Way to go.”
“Darn, you blew it with the communication with your husband again. All those things you were going to try to do next time a hard subject came up–listen before speaking, don’t get angry, try to understand his position before making yours known–well, what happened there? Will this ever get easier?”
“You didn’t make enough of a dent in your to-do list today– your house is messy, the laundry is not put away (again), and you didn’t get the grocery shopping done. No toilet paper for everyone tonight! Wait…do we have enough Kleenex? You better do more tomorrow.”
Think about it. There is no one in your life who will give you a running list of critical comments everyday on all subjects like your own self.
Lets take it one step farther. When we talk to ourselves this way, we live on an island of self-sufficiency. There is no solution unless we change and do better. Which often feels hopeless. Where does God fit into this picture of messy life? Let me show you:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. ~John 14.27
But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. ~ Isaiah 40:31
In our barrage of self-deprecating remarks we completely cut God out of the equation. We limit him powerless to help us because our own voices muzzle his work in our lives. But look at His promises–to renew our strength, give us peace, His power in our weakness, to take away our fear.
What if we spoke different, better words to ourselves.
“Just because I have a less than perfect response to my child it doesn’t mean I have failed. God has the power to give me patience and wisdom in my parenting journey–I just need to ask and invite him into this situation! I will remember that God loves me and my child and is bigger than my parenting flaws.”
“Lord, you know I struggle with wanting to be right. Forgive me for my pride and self-sufficiency in my marriage. Give me courage next time to defer my way. I know you love me and I’m a work in progress.”
“Tomorrow I will give my to-do list to God in the morning. I will ask him to help me manage my time and keep me focused on his plan for my day. I will get done the housekeeping that I can, but I will have grace for myself when I don’t accomplish it all. My home and homemaking doesn’t need to look perfect–God cares much more about me having margin for joy and energy with my family than to be a ragged mom striving to keep up with imaginary Pinterest perfection.”
When we change the way we speak to ourselves, we change how we invite God into our moments and struggles.
Here is a three step process to changing the voices in your head:
- Confess your sin/issue/struggle to God
- Invite Him into the situation. Ask for wisdom, hope, guidance…whatever you need
- Resolve to move forward, even to do better, but not on our own–with God, and with kinder self-talk.
What kind of self-talk can you invite God into? How might it look different?
Let’s silence the inner critic today 🙂